13. BACKSLIDER, REPENT!
It doesn’t matter what you did. If as a genuine believer in Jesus Christ, you know that you sinned against God, whether you consider it to be a great sin or a small sin, to set things right, you MUST be sorry for it and repent.
Sin is sin in God’s eyes. He hates all sin, no matter what type it is and all sin makes the sinner worthy of death.
All kinds of sin (whether it be gossip, badmouthing others, being a respecter of persons, fornication, jealousy, envy, discriminating against God’s children, the love of money, lying, adultery, creating division, segregation, cliques and classes in the Church, hating on some believers, faithlessness, pride, self-righteousness, condescension, unforgiveness, maliciousness, murder, rape, lustful thinking or any other kind of sin), separates you from God’s favour and blessing, bringing you into the domain of curses.
If you are a Christian and have committed some sin that you know about, you cannot continue on pretending that you did not grievously sin against God, as sin brings sterility, stagnancy, dissatisfaction with life and God’s sure hand of chastening upon your life.
God calls you to be honest with yourself and with him, to humble yourself in his sight and to repent. You were wrong and he was right and you need to now tell him so, abandon your sin and return to HIM before it is too late.
If you say you have not sinned, you are lying. If you say that you don’t need to repent or that your sin is not important and will therefore not be dealt with by God as it was just a small sin and you and God are still close and chummy, you are lying and deluding yourself.
Whether you are self-deceived, self-righteous or self-deprecating, God’s Word which is true states:
- “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
In Revelations, 2:5, the glorified Jesus told the Church at Ephesus:
- “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and REPENT, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Revelations 2:5)
Repentance is not just relevant to unbelievers who need to believe on Jesus and ask Him to come into their hearts and save them, by faith. It is also important for Christians who have been justified in Christ Jesus, especially those that know that they are in a backslidden condition and feel the prodding of the Holy Spirit, to get things right with God and to return.
Repentance is also not just for those who have stopped attending Church services completely but also for those who faithfully attend Church services and regularly but yet, their hearts are in a backslidden condition or there is some sin or sins that they have dismissed as not important. When a Christian dismisses or flippantly addresses his sin, refusing to call it for what it is and to humbly go to God with a sorrowful heart and confess it before Him, it is usually because of other sins called pride, haughtiness and self-righteousness, all of which need to be repented of.
Many scriptures in the Bible highlight the importance of repentance from sin and urge God’s people to do so. Some of these verses are as follows:-
- “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
- “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 28:13)
- “They say, if a man put away his wife and she go from him and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; YET RETURN AGAIN TO ME, saith the Lord…RETURN, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord and I will not keep anger for ever. Only ACKNOWLEDGE THINE INIQUITY, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the Lord. TURN, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city and two of a family and I will bring you to Zion….
- A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way and they have forgotten the Lord their God. RETURN, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings… IF THOU WILT RETURN, O Israel, saith the Lord, return unto me: and IF THOU WILT PUT AWAY THINE ABOMINATIONS OUT OF MY SIGHT, then shalt thou not remove…CIRCUMCISE yourselves to the Lord and TAKE AWAY THE FORESKINS OF YOUR HEART…lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.” (Jeremiah 3:1,12-14, 22; 4:14)
- “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways and SEE AND ASK FOR THE OLD PATHS, where is the good way AND WALK THEREIN and ye shall find rest for your souls…AMEND your ways and your doings and I will cause you to dwell in this place” (Jeremiah 6:16; 7:3).
(Written on 25th April, 2019, added to on 22nd June, 2020) (SEE ADDENDUM BELOW)
If we are honest, when it comes to backsliding (moving away from Jesus and his will for our lives), the heart of the problem is the problem of heart. This truth was underscored in a two part Sermon I heard today from Dr. H T. Spence, entitled: ‘The Steps To Backsliding’ .
In his sermon, Dr. Spence focused on Proverbs 4:23, which states:
“Keep thy HEART with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
He stated that salvation takes place in one’s heart when one believes in the heart (not head) but backsliding also starts in the heart. He informed therefore, that once a person believes the truth of the gospel with the heart and turns to Jesus Christ, that person has a responsibility to keep his or her heart with all diligence. For the Word has already warned us, that it is out of this heart, that the issues of life come.
When we come to Jesus in obedience, we give him our heart but self then tries to rise up throughout our Christian walk, always trying to take our heart or parts of it back. Yet, self has no claim because we are bought with a price. Jesus is our owner. This is why we are called upon in God’s Word, to deny self and take up our cross and follow Jesus.
When it comes to the heart, it is what God focuses on when it comes to those claiming to serve him. He is not interested in external paraphernalia or how we ‘appear’ to others but in what is going on inside our heart. He either has it completely as Lord or he doesn’t.
In bringing to remembrance the importance of the heart when it comes to serving God, Dr. H. T. Spence drew reference to the following verses:
- “…For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the HEART.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
- “For with the HEART man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:10)
- “That Christ may dwell in your HEARTS by faith…” (Ephesians 3:17)
- “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your HEART to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:19)
- “…Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the HEART.” (Ephesians 6:6)
- “Let us draw near with a true HEART in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)
- “But sanctify the Lord God in your HEARTS…” (1 Peter 3:15)
Having highlighted the importance of the condition of the heart and that it is the heart that is involved in all that we transact, he then stated:
- “This is the first step to backsliding, is when my heart is not with God. One of the crucial things is when my WORSHIP is not from the heart, when I am not SINGING from the heart, when I’m not PRAYING from the heart, when I’m not PREACHING from the heart, I’m no longer LIVING from the heart…
- The first preliminary step to backsliding is when we wane in our hearts with God.
- Oh the insightful book of the Bible, it brings to us a personal walk with God. It’s found in the beautiful Song of Solomon. This truly is the melody in the heart to the Lord. This book was written after the story happened. Solomon is a type of Christ and the Shunammite a type of the Christian. She is viewed as the fairest among the women. Solomon was the song of songs to her, his love was better than wine, his name was as ointment poured forth. She was in constant communion with Christ.
- It is one thing to have a UNION with God. It is another thing to have COMMUNION with God. Oh dear friend, we need to know this sweet communion. We need to know this fellowship that is recognized and enjoyed moment by moment. It is when my life is sharing with Christ in his Word, in prayer, in moments throughout the day, oh this is what that Shunnamite had with Solomon…
- There is an impossibility of communion with light and darkness. Oh this is what we need: It’s to keep that heart. Oh how often things break in on that heart. Loves, different loves break in and we tend to wane in that proto-love, that first love.
- Yes, this in the first of the seven Churches of Revelation 2:3, it was the leaving of that first love. This is why, oh dear friend, that the heart is to be consumed with Christ. All else is secondary.
- May today, if you heart is growing cold and apathetic and there is not the burning like it used to be in you, let’s get back into fellowship as soon as we detect it has been broken. And the motive of broken communion may not have been so much against him. We just let things come in and take the place of him. Oh that today, if we hear his voice, we will not harden our hearts but yea, run back to him to be restored and renewed in full communion.”
Dr. H. T. Spence spoke about the different loves that break in and threaten to come between our relationship and close walk with the Lord. It dawned on me, that these ‘loves’ are many. Some are blatant but others are subtle. They all produce the same effect, in that they turn you away from your close walk with God.
It may be love of a spouse, love of family, love of a boyfriend, fiance or ex-flame. It may be love of our children, love of money, love of politics, love of career, ambition and influence. It may be love of attention, the spotlight, popularity and people’s opinions or love of attending to the home and our household chores. It may be love of pleasure, gossip or entertainment or it may be what arguably underpins all the other wayward loves: A love of self.
As Dr. Spence pointed out though, the heart must be consumed with Christ. All other else, be it wife, husband, children, boyfriend, a dream, work, career, bank account, people, the pursuit of our own agenda and even engaging in ministry activities, must be secondary. For, Jesus alone must be on the throne of our heart. Nothing and nobody else deserves that place.
We must be careful to guard our hearts therefore, even from the things and people that seem noble and harmless, if we realize that they are vying to be number one on the throne of our hearts and affection or otherwise tempt us by endearment, to elevate them to this position.
(Addendum written on 19th August, 2021)
This short Sermon and all of Dr. H. T. Spence’s valuable sermons are available online at the link below: